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By Hans V. Rappard, Pieter J. van Strien (auth.), Hans V. Rappard, Pieter J. Van Strien, Leendert P. Mos, William J. Baker (eds.)

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Extra resources for Annals of Theoretical Psychology

Example text

It is difficult to extricate oneself from this web of illusion as long as one continues to use the old terms and the categories that they represent. If one aims at an analysis of the discipline that is not constrained by the limitations of the discipline's own ideology it seems preferable to work with categories more suited to the task. That is why I have been speaking of the "practice", or more specifically, the "investigative practice" (Danziger, 1990a) of psychologists, rather than of their 'methods'.

They were interested in knowledge that would permit a rationalization of institutional practices - in both senses of 'rationalization'. The contributions of psychologists were acceptable insofar as they permitted defined institutional goals to be achieved more efficiently and insofar as they provided a legitimization for institutional practices that might arouse doubts or opposition. Psychological knowledge objects which depended on the statistical construction of' individual differences' in performance measures were nicely in accord with the requirements of social institutions for which the grading and sorting of individuals was an important function.

Psychological investigators and subjects whose interests differ, and whose activity in the research situation is governed by different norms and traditions, will generate different kinds of knowledge products. Because of the 20 Kurt Danziger intimate link between theories and empirical domains investigators with divergent interests and activity norms will also produce different theories. This embeddedness of theories in certain patterns of collective activity and their empirical products sets limits to what can be achieved by an evaluation of theories against empirical data.

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